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  1. The Arthropods' Weekly Bulletin/

Fabulously red against clichés

·2 mins

I am Bernd, the firebug, a proud and confident arthropod with a striking red and black pattern and a long antenna, which I often accidentally catch on leaves or blades of grass.

I see myself not only as an insect with a stylish appearance but also as an ambassador against people’s untrue clichés. We true bugs are often labeled as annoying vermin, as little creatures that are somehow unclean. People may think of bedbugs or stink bugs (what a horrible name!), start scratching themselves and no longer want to have anything to do with us. However, as with all clichés, the core of this belief is now considered worn out and outdated. Personally, I put much effort into hygiene — and am even a little vain about my appearance. We firebugs are neither poisonous nor can we sting or bite humans. We may typically be considered agricultural pests, but I wouldn’t be so sure about that either. Although we are almost always found in large groups, I have not yet observed that we have caused major damage to plants.

I am proud of my looks and also of my lifestyle, as I am fortunately always in the best of company. My fellow firebugs and I prefer to live together near mallow plants, where we feed on their seeds and fruits. We almost always keep to ourselves and spend little time with other insects (I hope they don’t also know the cliché against us bugs). We communicate and cooperate and the fact that we prefer to come together in groups gives us a double advantage: on the one hand, we can share our experiences of the day and learn from each other, and on the other hand, group formation protects us from predators. Our bright warning color, which is even more intense in a collective, is an effective deterrent. And to birds, our greatest threat apart from humans, we appear much bigger and stronger in the group than we are.

We firebugs won’t let anything get us down. We have spread across continents, and anyone familiar with our history knows that we are characterized by an amazing ability to adapt. I am proud to be part of this fascinating and diverse family. We never get bored, we stick together and overcome every challenge together. Yes, I’m a bug, but I’m proud of it. In my little world, I’m a fighter who doesn’t just stand out because of his color.